Photographer: Craig White
While surfing on the Internet this week, I came across an advertisement for a Renaissance Faire in upstate New York. At first, the whole idea seemed like a ridiculous waste of time. Proper Renaissance ladies had it terrible! Floor-length dresses cinched up uncomfortably tight, all the household chores, and a bath maybe once every year? Not for me, thanks! I couldn't imagine wanting to dress up like that kind of woman. But then I thought...
Why be a lady when I can become be a wench?
I realized that this was my opportunity to try out a truly fun and daring new character. I decided right away that I wanted to be as the sauciest, most brazen wench I could be. Now that sounded like my kind of day.
I got completely wench-ed out, making my way through the streets and venues, taking photos with others, and trying out medieval activities like knife and axe throwing. The whole time, I kept hearing the same explanation for why folks loved attending the Faire:
"It's an escape from our normal lives."
I understood that right away. I mean, my first instinct was to become someone who could be a lot sexier and bolder than I usually acted, and I wasn't the only one who thought that way. Looking around, everyone was larger than life!
There were pirates, elves, jousters, warriors, wenches, vagabonds, mystical storytellers, belly dancers, royal pipers, and even a few proper ladies. Decked out in all this creative, old-timey finery, everyone looked bold, confident, and hot! (I still regret not getting that warrior's phone number! Damnit!)
Before, I thought of the whole event as silly dress-up, but then I realized that playing these roles can be a healthy way to express our inner selves. Don't we all act out different roles every day? We're one person when we go to a teacher's meeting with our kids, another person who goes a bachelorette or bachelor party with our friends, another when we meet with our boss at work, and still another when we're at a family reunion.
The list goes on and on, and none of them are completely spot on. We are always more than the individual roles we play, and it's only by exploring who we are in many different roles that we can ever start to understand who we are at the core.
Perhaps attending a Renaissance Faire isn't an escape after all? Perhaps it can be an outlet for expressing an important part of ourselves that has always been there--that is simply waiting for us to be brave enough to let it come out and play?
Video Production: Craig White